The negative effects of gambling have been researched, touted and spewed forth by researchers and do-gooders for decades. Unfortunately, there is an astonishing lack of research done on the positive aspects of gambling. This may be because it is much easier to see the negative impacts than to determine the benefits.
Pathological gambling (PG) is characterized by maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior. It is estimated that 0.1-4.6% of Americans meet the criteria for PG. It is most common in men, although it can occur in anyone regardless of age or sex. It typically starts in adolescence or early adulthood and develops into a problem over several years. PG is more likely to be present in those who gamble during their leisure time than in those who engage in gambling as a way of making money.
A person with a PG problem will continue to gamble even though they know it is harmful. They may have repeated attempts to stop but will fail. Those with a PG problem are also more likely to experience depressive symptoms and have poorer quality of life. In addition, they are more likely to be involved in criminal activity and to neglect family members and children.
There are a number of different treatments available for those who have a gambling problem, including cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of treatment will help a person to identify and change their beliefs about betting. These beliefs may include believing that you are more likely to win if you play certain games, that rituals will bring you luck, or that you can make up for any losses by betting more. A therapist will work with a patient to help them challenge these thoughts and replace them with healthier ways of thinking about betting.
Another important element in overcoming a gambling addiction is to strengthen your support network. This can be accomplished by spending more time with friends and family, participating in a hobby, or taking up a new sport or activity. It can also be helpful to join a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous. This 12-step program is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous and can provide valuable guidance for recovering from a gambling addiction.
While it is not a cure for compulsive gambling, a healthy diet and exercise can help a person stay in control of their finances and keep from losing control. It is also important to get enough sleep and not drink too much alcohol, as these can affect a person’s judgment. It is also a good idea to only gamble with disposable income and not money that needs to be saved or used for other purposes, such as paying bills or rent. Finally, a person who is struggling with gambling addiction should consider seeking financial advice. For example, they can contact StepChange for free and confidential debt advice. They can also speak to their GP about the impact of gambling on their mental health.